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Vilém Flusser’s Technical Image: Performative Inspirations

This essay explores the relevance of Vilém Flusser’s work for performance studies, a discipline that is based on philosophy of language, anthropology, as well as on the study of theatrical phenomena and everyday practices. Is there a possible kinship between Flusser’s concept of technical image and the broader category of performance?

Performative Inspiration (PDF 236.56 KB)

From Hegel to Zielinski: An Essay on German Media Philosophy

This article discusses an original media philosophy emerging in the German-language since the 1980s. Its relevant contexts described here include phenomenology, social critical theory (the Frankfurt School), and deconstructionism. The starting point of this paper is Hegel’s romantic vision of culture as language, and the area of meanings conveyed by speech and writing, whereas the conclusion is the vision of culture permeated by digital technologies. The so-called “medial turn” is a new opening for philosophical reflection under the aegis of Medienphilosophie. The presentation of its conceptual framework and analytical style is addressed here by the methodological and philosophical devices of Siegfried Zielinski’s media archeology.

Hegel to Zielinski (PDF 284.82 KB)

Flusser: um pensador visionário

A visionary thinker is one who thinks for the future and, accordingly, is somehow displaced in his/her own time. This article presents some of the reasons that lead us to consider Flusser as a visionary thinker. The influence of his work, especially in Brazil, is emerging with increasing power. This is a reliable indicator of the thesis concerning his ability to anticipate future issues. There are reasons, detectable nowadays, explaining why at the time Flusser wrote, his work was not understood in its full scope. Some of Flusser’s major conceptual concerns will be discussed as previews of the contemporary cultural scenario.

Pensador visionário (PDF 176.42 KB)

Dialogues Between Flusser and Young Media Artists: A Conversation with Mario Ramiro

This article focuses upon Flusser’s interest in the work of young media artists, largely based on the recollections of Mario Ramiro, a São Paulo artist who holds a master’s degree from the Kunsthochschule für Medien in Cologne. Ramiro talks about how he met Flusser in São Paulo in the late 1970s and was immediately taken by the philosopher’s ideas and style, which for him were that of an artist. He acknowledges Flusser’s influence and support for his career throughout the 1980s.

Dialogues (PDF 190.38 KB)

Interview avec Fred Forest / Entrevista com Fred Forest

This conversation about Vilém Flusser, between new media art critic Annick Bureaud and media artist Fred Forest, took place in Paris on December 22, 2008. Forest is a pioneer of video, media and network art whose actions and interventions establish pauses and disruptions in the usual flow of communication. His works are frequently critical, often humorous and on occasion insolent. Forest also writes and theorizes his own artistic creations besides maintaining a constant dialogue with philosophers and theorists. Flusser was one of those with whom intellectual exchange was always densely rich, productive and collaborative. In this interview, Forest speaks about some of his video projects developed with Flusser, as well as his news media and public interventions in the 1973 São Paulo Bienal, for which Flusser served as curator. Bureaud and Forest’s conversation bring to life the energy and more human, intersubjective exchanges that characterized the Forest-Flusser friendship, and which are seminal to both artistic creation and intellectual thought. Bureaud insightfully points out that unfortunately such vivid encounters are rarely found in scholarly research and in the history of art. In the hands of Forest and Flusser though, often overlooked gestures, shared for instance in a seemingly banal conversation on a summer afternoon or on a subway ride in Paris, become fully meaningful.

Interview (PDF 303.95 KB)
Entrevista (PDF 100.27 KB)

Postmodern Nomadism and the Beginnings of a Global Village

This paper comments on Vilém Flusser’s essay on new nomadism as an epochal change. The author takes a slightly critical viewpoint of Flusser’s definition of nomadism as a practice of archaic as well as of mediacentred life nowadays and discusses the rather traditional sedentary form Flusser adopts for his composition. The author bases his critique upon questions such as: is it really the Information Revolution and not the Industrial Revolution that leads to the end of the Neolithic Age? Is it only a virtual nomadism that came about in 1990 or does the epochal change concern also physical “nomadic” movement? In discussing Flusser’s essay the author points out the differences of meaning evident in Flusser’s original German text and the English translation. This leads to different possible interpretations of Flussers essay. The author closes by discussing the concepts of the idiot and the nomad. He clarifies how these concepts are relevant in a post-modern society and presents the possibility that the wisdom of idiocy is a survival strategy.

Postmodern Nomadism (PDF 198.33 KB)

McLuhan, Flusser, and the Mediatic Approach to Mind

The following text aims at reconstructing and comparing two paramount theories of the mind as historical product of the increasing predominance of media. Marshall McLuhan and Vilém Flusser both develop a theory of media, setting out, however, from very different points of departure. McLuhan tends to stress media in general, whereas Flusser insists on the importance of the predominant codes of communication. In spite of this, their theories show striking similarities. The deeper coincidence between McLuhan and Flusser lies in conceiving of existence and consciousness as formed or determined by the media. Another salient similarity can be detected in the definition of three great ages of human history, brought about by significant transformations in communication.

multilayered

The computer computes. Landscapes, disaster, nature, culture, icons, explosions. Daily news. Images of events that happen far away. Pixels and quanta, one or zero. In this multilayered-series I let the computer merge hundreds of single images into each other. They are taken systematically as well as randomly from the internet (or my private collection). The titles refer to the words which were entered into the image search engines. At recurring points of the calculation process I intervene with aesthetic decisions. 

Flusser a metafyzika / Flusser und Metaphysik

Although Flusser proposes to examine human communication from a dispassionate, non-ideological point of view, his analysis is based on metaphysics. In his description of dialogical communication structures we can detect, in fact, a double recourse on metaphysics. On the one hand there are circular dialogues which, according to Flusser, originate in the Greek agora, on the other are certain net dialogues which originate from Jewish philosophy. The first case, a fundamentally Platonic type, is based on an ascending metaphysics, a movement from concrete reality into the realm of truth. In the second case, one is not looking for ideas or abstract principles but moving downwards toward concrete reality in order to find an embodiment for these ideas or principles. These structures allow us to reconsider not only metaphysics itself but also our notions of concrete reality.

Metafyzika (PDF 86.43 KB)
Metaphysik (PDF 84.86 KB)

Technický obraz a logická stavba (Bau): Flusser a Wittgenstein / Das technische Bild und der logische Bau: Flusser und Wittgenstein

Both Wittgenstein and Flusser tried to find an answer to the question: how are media possible? Although Wittgenstein does not ask this question explicitly it can be detected in his Tractatus. Because of this fundamental similarity between both thinkers, it is possible to read Wittgenstein's theory of logical form from the point of view of Flusser's concept of techno-image and to interpret Flusser's notion of medium from the point of view articulated in Wittgenstein's Tractatus. At the same time, it is necessary to focus on their differences. Wittgenstein deals with the problem of the form of a significant world, while Flusser
focuses on the problem of specific artifacts, that is, technical images. For Wittgenstein a medium is generally one object placed among other objects. Flusser, on the other hand, is interested in a specific medium situated among other artifacts.

Technický obraz (PDF 140.61 KB)
Das technische Bild (PDF 124.98 KB)

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